As I sit here typing, Margaret is at our friends’ house and our dogs are at the kennel. Henning is at work. I’m waiting until it’s time to leave for a doctor’s appointment. It’s midmorning and I’m sitting at the island in our kitchen, brewing coffee and contemplating breakfast. I’m alone and I have no idea what to do with myself. The house is quiet; the radio is on, but there’s no background, background noise. Right now on a normal day when I’m not working, I would be trying to coax Margaret to go potty so we can head to a park or the grocery store or just get outside to enjoy the nice weather. I would be sucking down the dregs of half-caff coffee and trying to maintain patience.
But here I sit in an all too quiet house, defeated, because last night I thought I was in labor, again. We had finished dinner, and Henning and Margaret were upstairs going through her bedtime routine. My contractions were regular, and I felt like something was leaking out of me. I was trying to finish baking cookies to give to our friends taking care of Margaret while we’re having the baby. The dishwasher needed to be emptied and dirty dishes loaded. Since I’m trying for a VBAC, however, my doctor wants us to head to the hospital early so I can be monitored to make sure my uterus doesn’t rupture. (A very small possibility. You know, not scary at all!) There’s a big error bar in heading to the hospital early. I was having contractions 20 minutes apart when we left the house to deposit our dogs and Margaret at the kennel and friends’ house, respectively. By the time we got to the hospital nearly an hour later, my contractions were 15 minutes apart. Forward progress! I put my out-of-office message on my work email; I texted my family in Virginia to let them know IT’S TIME!
I was certain I was in labor. I was suspicious about my water breaking. Contractions were getting intense and making my shoulder blades ache. At the hospital, Henning brought in our bags, certain we were in it to win it. I parked it in a wheelchair and was wheeled up to labor and delivery from the emergency department, chatting with a nurse about how THIS WAS IT! I went through the drill I’m becoming too familiar with. Led to a room with monitoring equipment, outfitted in a hospital gown, hooked up to the fetal monitor, and violated with an internal exam. This was when the nurse dropped the first bit of ominous news: no change in dilation or effacement since my previous appointment. (GODDAMNIT! Does this baby not know that he’s suppose to exit the womb, like now?!) The nurse did a test to see if my water broke. The test came back negative, and the nurse suggested that “it was probably just a little bit a urine–nothing to be embarrassed about.” Look lady, I’ve been peeing my pants on accident for weeks now and have no shame. Whatever leaked out of me wasn’t pee. I might not be able to see what’s going on down there, but I can certainly feel things, and this didn’t feel like pee.
Henning and I quietly watched the fetal monitor, listening to the baby’s heartbeat and seeing that I wasn’t out of my mind–the contractions were real. After being monitored for about an hour, I asked to get up and walk around because hospital beds are made mostly of stone and don’t conform to the human body in any comfortable fashion. I thought walking would speed things up and had visions of being moved from the “We’re just going to make sure you’re not shitting us” room to a “You got this, girl! Push that baby out!” room. My doctor popped in to say basically (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Nice try, lady! Sure, get up and walk around (not that that’s going to do anything <maniacal laughter>)!” I was so focused on moving things along that his doubt didn’t sway my confidence. I shuffled through the halls while donning two hospital gowns, one as a gown and one as a robe, with Henning by my side. I was even wearing hospital socks with the little rubber nonslip thingies on them. I looked every bit the part of a woman about to be having a baby.
After 20 minutes of walking the halls, Henning and I went back to the monitoring room and talked about work, life, Facebook, and anything to keep our minds off all the waiting and our ears from drowning in the silence. I stood in the middle of the room, swaying and saying “now” every time a contraction started so Henning could time them on his phone. The nurse came back in the room an hour later and violated me again. I knew in my heart that nothing had changed, but my brain was so focused on having this baby that when she broke the bad news, I let lose a string of obscenities I was saving for the throes of labor. She assured me I was so close. Labor could start in earnest at anytime. That’s been the mantra for 2 weeks now, and at 2 days past my due date, it seems like “anytime” will never come.
My dreams of graduating to a delivery room were dashed. We walked out of labor and delivery, weighted down with our luggage, baby and all. Down the elevator to the emergency department and past the nurse who wheeled me up to labor and delivery nearly 3 hours prior. We hung our heads and mumbled about our false alarm. The nurse joked that it was a good practice run. We walked out into the chilly night, and drove home to our quiet, empty house.
This morning I’m struggling with still being pregnant. I want to be with Margaret and the baby and Henning. I’m not used to not yelling at the dogs to shut the hell up. I haven’t felt this alone in over a decade, when I didn’t know how much noise matters. It’s maddening, all the quiet.